Personal Brand Photos: How to make them awesome
If you have a service based business or a personal brand, getting photos is one of the best investments (if not the best) you can make in your business.
They create connection, recognition and engagement.
The stats show that Instagram photos with faces get 38% more engagement than those without.
Without brand photos, you might find yourself using that same old headshot over and over again.
Or hiding yourself behind a series of word images and stock photos.
I get it. It can be daunting to get in front of the camera.
And totally awkward.
But if you haven’t taken the leap yet (or in the last year), I would encourage you to do so!
And this blog will help you out.
The first thing to do, is find an amazing photographer. The right photographer will make you feel really comfortable and make sure the shot is just right.
I recently got some new photos done with the amazing Amanda Harrington of AJ Harrington Photos.
And I’m excited to welcome Amanda as a contributor to this blog post!
Here we are sharing 6 different things to think about when getting your photos taken and how to get the most out of your shoot.
You’ll be getting the perspective from both me, a marketer, and Amanda, brand photographer.
Let’s get stuck in.
IMPORTANT THING #1: PURPOSE
Way before you begin your shoot, it is important to think about where you want your photos to be used. The last thing you want is to get an amazing series of photos but only have the ability to use them in a few places.
This will influence aspect ratio, how much background you need, angles and more.
- Website hero images (Top banners & home page)
- Other website images
- Social media cover images
You’ll also want to think about what you are doing in the photos. Do you want just pictures of you or did you want some that show you doing what you do on a day to day basis in your role?
Think about what types of content you share. What pictures can you use to support that?
For me, I was focused on getting new shots for my website, services pages, Instagram and Facebook Ads. I also wanted to get some shots that were more specific to my two Amplify programs.
This meant we needed quite a few different shots.
This is definitely the most important part of a branding photo shoot and something that I love fleshing out with a client… the WHY. What are you going to be using your images for and where are you going to be using them? What stories or messages are you trying to communicate and how can we represent that in a photo?
This research into the purpose of your shoot will help to define all the practical aspects that are to come. From where we are going to shoot, what poses we’ll try, what props we’ll use, what clothes you’ll wear down to how I hold my camera, what lens I use and where I position you in the frame.
In order to get maximum use and flexibility with your images having an understanding of why you need them is paramount.
Purpose – for when I’m sharing workshops / trainings
Important thing #2: Vibe
How do you want your audience to feel when they see your images? Confident, comfortable, excited or amused?
There are so many factors that can influence this feeling and we want to ensure your brand values shine through.
In my example, I wanted a mix of bold confidence and approachability.
The vibe of your shoot is closely linked to your purpose and also your own personality. The most successful shoots are when these are closely aligned. If you want a shoot that is fun, bubbly and extravagant but deep down you aren’t these things then that is going to be hard to sustain across a shoot and within your brand.
Conversely, if you are someone who likes to ham it up then you will feel frustrated and boxed in if you try to do something too serious.
The point is to have a connection with your audience, how do you want them to feel about working with you. What do you want to instil in them when they see your images?
Having a good understanding of your brand and personal values will help set this mood. It will help drive your ‘why’ and give more definition to the practical aspects like location, clothing, props and poses.
Important thing #3: location
Amanda probably has more to share on this one that I do because to be honest, I didn’t even think about this before I booked her! Luckily, she came to the rescue and found a couple of really cool locations to shoot.
However, think back to what sort of photos you would like. Outdoors or indoors? At a desk or in action? Did you want an interesting background or just a blank canvas?
Also think about what will provide the most versatility.
We worked from two locations, a rehearsal room at a music shop and an Air Bn’B beach house.
The location of your shoot is definitely important for your vibe and your purpose. Photos taken in a cafe with a busy background give off a different feeling to photos in a studio under professional lights.
If your work area at home is in the corner of your house and covered in junk (as mine is) but your brand is bright and fresh and minimal (like mine is) then a creative solution will be needed. I have completely rearranged clients rooms to get the right set up to match the vibe of the shoot (and to get the best light) so you don’t always have to look elsewhere.
Cafe’s are popular for creative images but if you never work from a cafe and don’t meet your clients in a cafe then it isn’t going to align with your brand. It also may not work for shots where you want lots of clear space to add text to for your website banners or promotional images. Same goes for outdoor shots with lots of greenery. What fits with your brand?
So think about what backgrounds you want, what stories you want to tell and what vibe you want to give. Airbnb’s are a great option (check with the owner) as well as hubs like Space to co. Your photographer may also have favourite locations.
Music Shop = Lots of ‘Amplify’ Props
Beach House = lots of light
Important thing #4: Wardrobe & props
Wardrobe is where many get stuck. I know I did. And it is important to have a few wardrobe changes on hand to make the photos look different. Even adding a jacket can make a big difference.
First, think about your vibe and the types of photos you want, create wishlist of wardrobe items.
You should also think about your brand colours as this is what will help tie everything together. For me, this is the teal and pink with a splash of burgundy.
If you are anything like me, this could mean a lot of online shopping searching under the colours filter to eventually find what you like.
You’ll also want to think about props. Again, look at your brand colours to see how you can bring it together to make them shine.
Ahh, the hardest question “What do I wear?!”. I think the most important thing here is variety and comfort. Standing in front of a camera is hard enough without doing it in too tight shoes or a jacket that doesn’t let you move freely. It is important that you are comfortable.
Having a few sets of outfits will give you variety in the stories that you are telling and it will also mean your images have more life. If you have the same outfit for every single pose then your audience will eventually get bored of that set of images.
Vibe and brand are also an important consideration. If your brand has pastel colours then a red shirt won’t build on the trust and recognition factor that we’re aiming for. If you are never dressed formally with your clients then feel free to be yourself. It’s important to consider what your audience expects from you. If you live in your PJ’s and are known for that then buy a set in your brand colours and have fun with it!
Props are also where a lot of people get stuck. As in they don’t know what to include. Have a look around your own desk and see what you use in your day-to-day business. Do you have specific tools or equipment that you use? Are you known for your love of donuts or how much you love a cup of tea? Having a set of things in your brand colours can really set the scene.
And remember not all of your images in your shoot have to be of you and your face. You may have a cup with a favourite quote or flowers that are your brand colours and simple shots like this can be used to break up your feed. Once again, going back to your why will help with this shot
My collection of branded props
Important thing #5: Posing
When creating amazing brand photos, you want to move beyond just smiling at the camera. In fact, there are some really subtle things you can do in your images that can really help your conversion rates.
For example, in Ads or on Sign Up pages you want to draw your audiences attention to the main thing you want them to look at.
Instinctively we’ll look at someone’s face but if instead you are posed looking at or pointing at a headline or an object, your viewer will follow your eyeline and pay attention to what you want them to focus on.
You might also want to think about the types of emotions you want to relate to and express that in your images.
Research this! Browse Pinterest or Instagram for pictures that you love the style of. The will help enormously to visualise what you are wanting from the session.
Build up a shot list based on the stories you want to tell and where you want to use them. Do you want to show your audience that you understand their pain points? How can we do that with an image? Do you want to be laughing, serious, contemplative? You don’t always have to be looking at the camera and your photographer will often shoot the in-between moments.
Don’t get too caught up in the exact poses. We want to the session to move freely and have you looking as natural as possible. Your photographer will be able to guide you through a set of moves or actions that will have the desired result without you looking too uncomfortable or static.
Lots of pointing
Unsure of what to say
Important thing #6: editing
After the photoshoot is done, the work isn’t over.
Not only can we do a lot in photoshop to make the photos really shine (and I’m not talking about trimming thighs here), but different effects and light can ensure the focus is on you.
You’ll also want to think about alignment and how the images are cropped. For example, being slightly to the left or to the right can make a picture more interesting.
There will also be some you want to zoom in on more to make a headshot out of and those that are better from the distance.
Finally, you’ll want some images with the backgrounds removed for the most flexibility. For example, I could remove the background from any of the images and put them onto a different coloured background.
So, as you’ve probably realised the actual shoot is maybe ⅓ – ¼ of the time spent on a full branding session! The preparation and communication is a very large chunk and so is the editing and delivery.
There is a lot that can be done in the editing stage and it is important that your photographer understands your brand. The same shot can be edited to look boho and whimsical or colourful and strong. This is where choosing a photographer that suits your brand style can draw huge benefits.
This is also where it’s important that your photographer knows where you want to use the images so they can allow for that in cropping and resizing. Do you need transparent backgrounds to use as overlays? Or the subject only in a corner with room to add text?
Do you need print versions? Web images and print images are output with very different settings. Print quality images will slow down your site, web versions won’t have enough resolution to print out into hardcopy so these are considerations you need to know beforehand.
In order to get the most flexibility and functionality out of your brand photos, you’ll want to consider all of the above.
A great photographer can do a lot but unless you have a clear picture of how and where you want to use your pictures and what you want to convey in them you may still be limited in where you use them.